EC (oesophageal cancer) is one of the ten most frequent and fatal tumours worldwide and ESCC (oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma) accounts for about 80% of the cases. The first symptoms of ESCC arise late during the progression of the disease and, therefore, the diagnosis is usually done in advanced stages. This leads to an inefficient treatment and consequently to a poor prognosis. Thus, a comprehensive knowledge of ESCC biology is of major importance to identify risk factors, especially in high-incidence areas and biomarkers which could enable ESCC prevention and interventions throughout the natural history of the disease. In this review, we present the current knowledge regarding ESCC aetiology as well as the different genetic and epigenetic alterations already described in this tumour. We also discuss how these alterations could be used to anticipate ESCC diagnosis as well as how they can help improving treatment. A molecular natural history of the disease is proposed pointing out potential markers that may improve interventions at different points of ESCC development. Only when the different layers of complexity behind this tumour are elucidated, it will be possible to successfully perform prevention at different levels.